Douglas County School District’s $60 million mill levy override and $450 million bond questions are not fairing well as ballots continue to be counted.
As of 9:12 p.m. Nov. 8, measure 5A, for the $60 million mill levy override was failing narrowly with 51.25% of voters opposing it, while the bond, measure 5B, was failing by nearly 9 percentage points. So far, around 60% of voters have returned ballots.
The mill levy override would have gone toward making staff compensation more competitive, with the average teacher to see a 9% salary increase. The bond money would have been used to build three new elementary schools, on top of maintaining and improving other district buildings.
At the Invest in DCSD watch party on Nov. 8 in Highlands Ranch, Superintendent Erin Kane said the results were not what she was hoping for, but was optimistic about the support shown by voters.
"I'm actually feeling good because we were at 39% (approval rating with voters) in May and in this economy, we moved all the way to 48%," Kane said of the mill levy override that would have increased teacher pay.
Kane said the failing funding questions don't put the district in dire financial straights, but it does keep the district from being competitive on pay and meeting growth demands for at least the next year.
Kane said the district will need to be able to make staff compensation more competitive and build new schools, so she imagines bond and mill levy override questions will be on the ballot again next year.
"I'm going to do everything I can to take care of our staff, to take care of our people and get us through the next 12 months while we talk to voters," Kane said. "This is only the beginning."
Kane also thanked Christa Gilstrap, who co-founded Invest in DSCD, the political issue committee that supported the bond and mill levy override, and all of the parents, staff and individuals who volunteered to campaign for the funding questions.
Douglas County School Board member Mike Peterson said the school board will debrief about the election at the board's Nov. 30 retreat to consider next steps, particularly when it comes to the district's need for new schools in the growing neighborhoods of Sterling Ranch, Crystal Valley and the Canyons.
"We will look at coming back for another bond because we cannot go through what we went through the years of 2006 to 2018, going 12 years without passing a bond," Peterson said.
The last time voters approved a bond for Douglas County schools was in 2018.